- 20 Mar 01
With the same old trad royalty still being treated with grovelling reverence, promoter and manager David Caren thinks it stime the young and innovative got their dues. But will it happen? Report: SIOBHAN LONG.
A young turk in his 20s, David Caren has been busily conjuring a brand new music concept called Ora, which may well have the distinction of being the earliest debutant of the next millennium, with a showcase gig planned for January.
Caren s master plan is to merge some of the most exciting traditional music, from some of today s most innovative musicians, with what he calls the hard-hitting adrenaline sounds that exist on the club circuit today .
From his description it sounds like Kila: The Next Generation. Because as well as recognising the wealth of young talent that s surging through the country, Caren s got his eye on our natural primal need for a decent backbeat. (A primal need that s proof that it s not for nothing that the bodhran has survived generations of penknife jokes).
This being 1999 though, Caren aims to take the beat further, much further. With the help of ace house and r n b DJ, Aoife Nic Canna, Caren s brainchild could possibly be the first real crossbreed to harness the stimulant properties of dance and make it serve at the high altar of trad.
As we write, Caren and Aoife Nic Canna are busy putting flesh on the bones of their original idea for Ora. Nic Canna doesn t see this as a schizoid shift in direction for her career, though Mixing trad music with dance music isn t all that new, she avers.
Andy Weatherall did a mix for My Bloody Valentine a good 8 years ago. Even modern Irish artists like Siniad O Connor and The Pogues have been very influential too. But mixing the backing tracks for Ora won t be a particularly strange thing, because I was mixing tracks anyway. It s feels very natural to me to get involved with Ora.
David Caren s motivation to forge something that s a little different is fuelled by his experience of recent years looking at how the media continually bolster the established acts, ignoring the newer talent.
I generally feel that our young emerging traditional artists are being overlooked, that there still remains a stereotypical definition of traditional music. The media are not clued into the changes in traditional music although I have great respect for the traditional artists of yesteryear, I get annoyed at the attention and perhaps even the monopoly these artists possess 15 years on. In order for traditional music to evolve, we must look at our new up and coming Irish talents such as Danz, Solas, Galldubh, Michael McGoldrick and Alan Kelly.
If you attend a Kila, Danz or Solas concert, you will see first-hand a younger audience that you would never have seen before. The trad groupie is very much in! Younger people are in two minds nowadays to either ask for a set of decks or Uilleann Pipes for Christmas. Thankfully Ora can offer them both illusions.
Caren s frustration lies largely with what he sees as the stagnation of the Irish music media.
I think it s because the people writing about Irish music are the same age as the musicians who were playing it 25 years ago. But if you take someone like Alex Moffat who writes for the Irish Times: he s in his early 20s, he s done a great justice for Irish music because he knows what s coming out, he knows young bands playing fabulous music. But most journalists writing are twice that age and they tend to harp on the acts who are their own age. Which is a pity because there s a lot of fine musicians out there.
Ultimately, Caren wants to give the Irish media a wake-up call.
We are all aware that there is a certain amount of bowing to the traditional royalty in the Irish Music Industry which, frankly, is now well past its sell-by date! All I ask of the media, sponsors and record companies alike is to tune in, and acknowledge what is being born into the traditional music scene today and by doing so, support it in every way they can.
Caren also sees music awards ceremonies as culpable in this regard.
The problem seems to be that people are afraid to say this sort of thing, he suggests. If you look at the categories at most Irish awards, the nominees are probably the same as they were the year before. In my view the bands we should be honouring are the likes of Solas who are the biggest trad band in the US and whenever they play it s sold out in hours. Then there s Danz from Waterford and Michael McGoldrick from Manchester
Following the tenets of good marketing, Caren s quick to highlight that attribute that s kept everyone from Jagger to Tina Turner in business: sex appeal.
McGoldrick is the first musician I ve seen play in the Harcourt Hotel who had 16 year old girls screaming at him, he declares, which was superb. Last time I saw Danz too: there was such a huge female audience for these young men on stage. In club garb! And everyone knows the effect Kila have on an audience. They only have to get on stage and that s it! And then there s the Afro Celt Sound System, who I m also involved with. I think they ve done incredible things, bringing the music all over the world, and this has been largely ignored.
But of course the real question is: would Sean O Riada turn in his grave at what Ora is doing?
Caren worries little about this.
I regard Sean O Riada as one of the great innovators in Irish Music and I would only be flattered if he turned in his grave! n